The study, released by the Washington, DC-based think tank in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, examines countries in four areas of economic freedom within specific categories including rule of law (property rights, freedom from corruption); limited government (fiscal freedom, government spending); regulatory efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and open markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom).
The Heritage Foundation ranked Kazakhstan the 67th freest economy among the index’s 178 countries. Kazakhstan score of 63.7 is .7 points higher than 2013 with improvements noted in investment freedom, business freedom and monetary freedom.
Regionally, Kazakhstan ranked 11th out of 42 countries in the index’s Asia-Pacific region.
Heritage defines economic freedom as “the fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labour and property. In an economically free society, individuals are free to work, produce, consume, and invest in any way they please. In economically free societies, governments allow labour, capital and goods to move freely, and refrain from coercion or constraint of liberty beyond the extent necessary to protect and maintain liberty itself.”
Scores of 80 or higher are considered free, 70-79.9 mostly free, 60-69.9 moderately free, 50-59.9 unfree and under 50 repressed. Kazakhstan ranks as moderately free and above the international average.
Kazakhstan’s score has improved by 22 points over the 17 years it has been included in the index and has been listed as moderately free since 2008, according to the Heritage Foundation. That is among the top 20 most improved countries.
Those gains have included double-digit improvements in seven of the ten economic freedoms, including monetary freedom, trade freedom, financial freedom, fiscal freedom and business freedom, according to Heritage Foundation indexes. Improvements in the country’s regulatory efficiency and market openness have contributed to these gains, according to the index.
To improve further, Heritage Foundation suggests Kazakhstan adopt structural reforms associated with reducing dependence on the country’s energy sector and achieving a more diversified economy. It also recommends further improvements in property rights and in the fight against corruption.